It wasn’t too long ago that Graydar was the hottest thing going. The galloping gray, just two races into the 2013 season, looked to be on an express highway to stardom. Impressive victories in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, and the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap, in his very first two stakes attempts, had racing fans abuzz over his potential. That was then, this is now. In a ‘what have you done for me lately’ world, Graydar has fallen off the tips of tongues and the streams of consciousness, of most, due to inactivity. Now, six months later, the raw talent of the son of Unbridled’s Song will be on display again in Saturday’s Kelso Invitational.
It all began for Graydar in 2012, where due to various growing pains, he made only three starts as a sophomore for trainer Todd Pletcher. In April, he whistled in his career debut, streaking to an 8 1/2 length victory at Gulfstream. He then found a tricky spot for his return five months later, when he ran third in a fast allowance race at Belmont Park. That remains his only career loss. Graydar closed his three-year-old in style by and winning a Gulfstream allowance by 4 1/4 lengths in 1:33.72 for the flat mile.
On that speedy note, Graydar was well liked going into 2013, but still, making his first try around two-turns, and his first stakes race in a salty grade 1, seemed to be asking a lot. No worries. The 5-1 chance went right to the lead as he rattled off a quarter in :23.12 and the half in :46.87, while keeping strong speed horses like Ultimate Eagle and Take Charge Indy at bay. The free-wheeling colt, with Edgar Prado in the irons, sped through six panels in 1:10.59, and instead of weakening, he only widened his lead to a healthy three length working margin as the ten-horse field turned for home. From there, the deep cast of Donn players could do nothing to put a scare into Graydar as he cruised home by three lengths, while finishing in a final time of 1:48.25 for the nine furlongs.
Tested for class, Graydar took his show on the road, as he looked to earn his first victory away from Gulfstream Park in the New Orleans Handicap. This time bet down to 6-5 against another solid field, Graydar would pass the test with flying colors. Breaking from the far outside, Graydar let Majestic Harbor and Mark Valeski set the early pace, while stalking in third. Given something to think about by the local star, Mark Valeski, Graydar eventually proved too much for his multiple stakes winning foe, and crossed the Fair Grounds wire nearly two lengths the best.
The only thing that could slow down Graydar was not another horse, but rather the surgery to remove a chip from his ankle performed in April. Working well, and in company with some of his well-known stablemates, he now looks ready to pick up where he left off.
Adding just a little bit of flare to the Graydar story is NFL Hall of Famer, Terry Bradshaw. The four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback is one of the partners that make up the Louisiana-based Twin Creeks Racing Stable that owns the winner of 4-of-5 lifetime races. Their star will be heavily favored to improve on that record in Saturday’s grade 2 test. The one mile affair looks to be coming up a little with only Brujo de Olleros, Hymn Book, Jaguar Paw, Souper Speedy, and possibly Ron the Greek on the list of probables likely to attempt to ruin Graydar’s return to the races celebration.